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Lib Dem councillors call for campaign to end ‘shocking’ littering in Cambridge

Liberal Democrat city councillors are proposing a co-ordinated campaign in response to the recent “inundation” of littering that has occurred in public open spaces and streets in Cambridge.

Littering has become a major problem in Cambridge since the lockdown was eased (38137657)
Littering has become a major problem in Cambridge since the lockdown was eased (38137657)

In a motion, tabled for debate at next Thursday’s council meeting (July 16), they are calling for “a combination of high profile public awareness, enhanced and focused enforcement activity, an intensification of collection frequency in response to warm weather days and improved type and capacity of bins”.

Cllr Josh Matthews, Lib Dem spokesperson on the environment, is proposing the campaign.

“Across the city, the sight of litter left lying around over the past weeks has been shocking,” he said. “It’s important that something practical is done before things get out of control, rather than just condemning it.

“There is normally terrific trust between the council and the public, with the public generally taking care of our surroundings and the council making that easy and possible and upholding responsible behaviour. But this seems recently to have broken down in some respects. This is despite council staff having gone above and beyond during the pandemic.”

He added: “If some people see correctly placed litter just over-flowing from bins and piled up on the ground, then they are maybe less likely to see the spaces as somewhere the community in general cares about. Of course no-one can condone that response from a minority; but learning from round the world suggests that it does exist.

“On the other hand there clearly do need to be new efforts to declare and explain what our standards are, with visible reminders. And although it is impractical purely to punish your way to better behaviour, low-profile but visible patrolling perhaps needs to play a bigger part when huge crowds understandably flock to enjoy the remarkable spaces that the city offers.

“What I am hoping to achieve is a recognition that we need a bit more than ‘business as usual’ in the form of a balanced, co-ordinated campaign led by the city council.”

The city council litter collection teams have been picking up sacks of rubbish every morning strewn across the city’s parks – especially around Jesus Green and Sheeps Green.

And it has organised for volunteer litter picks.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Labour’s executive councillor for open spaces, said the council had already been working with the police since the start of lockdown to deal with groups gathering in public spaces.

Last week, the Cambridge Independent reported how she had raised the prospect of an alcohol ban on some of the city’s green spaces to tackle the problem.

She said: “Most residents in Cambridge appreciate the open spaces and realise the team clearing up has been working really hard and it’s just a small minority who, when they have been drinking, don’t seem to care.

“It’s this small minority who are also putting other people’s lives at risk because our teams have to clear up their waste and they may catch Covid-19 from the litter they pick up.”

Cllr Thornburrow said she was willing to meet with ward councillors at their local parks to discuss solutions, adding: “We are also considering litter enforcement teams at night, which we wouldn’t normally do.”

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